(First, go to this post if you don’t know what my #Before30BucketList is. I’ll also be going back to that and noting each goal accomplished and maybe adding or editing some items, if you want to keep up but miss out on some of my posts.)
This one came about quite unexpectedly. I put it on my list but I didn’t really think I would pull it off. After all, I made this list when I turned 29 so I have to complete them all in a year. Of course, I thought inside the box when I wrote it down and imagined flying off to Guam or some shit all alone, knowing it would most likely not happen.
Then, while planning another #Before30BucketList adventure, problems arose.
My favorite author was on a book tour promoting his most recent book and he would be in my home state at the end of March.
So I made all my plans to go see him on a Tuesday. At least two other people were willing to join me on that date. Now, I had looked into it, so I knew for this specific signing, you had to purchase a ticket. I knew this, yet somehow I let it slip through my crowded brain and didn’t think to actually buy any tickets until the weekend before the event.
Of course they were sold out.
But since I had looked into it, I also knew that he was doing a signing in NYC the day before. And NYC was almost exactly the same distance from my house as the location I had planned on visiting. Coincidentally, none of the people who were available on Tuesday were available that Monday. But there was no way I was missing such an opportunity, so I decided to go alone.
I concluded that driving to New York was, in fact, traveling alone. I was driving over two hours away, and I was planning to explore some of the City and take it all in and not be bothered by other people’s agendas. It was somewhere I haven’t visited since I was 14, and it was somewhere many people traveled to from all over the world. So it counted.
(Admittedly, this wasn’t my main reason for going and I crossed three items off my list in this one trip, but when you have over 80 things to do in a year you have to conserve a little.)
I filled my tank and looked up the best (see: cheapest) parking garage and set my GPS and tuned my radio to country and left, without looking back.
The drive was enjoyable. Typically I hate driving far distances alone but I guess because I knew this was a self-adventure I took more pleasure in it. I stopped a million times to pee because I had downed two 24oz lattes before I left, but even the rest stops seemed like an experience.
When I actually got into NYC, my father’s worst fear had me reeling with excitement: the crazy drivers. I loved it. I felt right at home. I blended in with the rest of the rat race, only I was no rat and I was not racing. While the other cars were speeding to or from work or home or meetings or appointments, I was simply partaking in the mayhem of my own free will. When someone did something unexpected, I matched the obnoxious rattling of driver’s horns with my own melodic (or maybe insane) laughter. I would have been happy having gone home after simply driving with the best.
I maneuvered my way to the parking garage quite easily for someone who had never driven in New York before — it was the walking that threw me off. I switched my phone GPS to walking mode but first it didn’t know which direction I was facing so I walked back and forth until it figured it out and told me where to go. Then wherever it told me to go was wrong so I walked back and forth again until I chose a direction and just kept walking, because I knew my destination was on 86th street somewhere. I chose correctly because I only had to walk another block.
When I arrived, I had four whole hours to kill. So I perused the book store and read a little and colored a little and people-watched a little, but my anxiety started to kick in (as it sometimes does if I stay in one place for too long) so I went outside. There I met an adorable homeless dog lying in her person’s lap. I went over and talked to them and asked if I could sit with them. The person seemed skittish at first — I think maybe he thought that if I was sitting with him I would either want some of his money or I would scare away the kind people who might be willing to help him by not looking homeless enough (although I almost always look kind of homeless).
I started talking to him but he mumbled so I didn’t make out his name or his dog’s name, but I managed to get that he moved around a lot and the dog was a 6-year-old female (just like mine). I pet her for a while which gave his aching legs a break, then gave him a cigarette and 90% of the snacks I had brought with me (I literally had no extra money). Sometimes he was very friendly but others he gave the impression that he was uninterested in my company, so I went on my way and by the time I came back they were gone.
I watched the hodgepodge of people weave their way through one another and intersections and around grates. There were young women pushing strollers and hipsters skateboarding and old men in suits. No one seemed scared, no one seemed threatening, no one seemed angry when I did obviously-touristy things.
I wandered for a bit but never far from the bookstore, because although I was aware that I was considering this traveling alone for my list, I was also aware that the tiniest mishap could ruin my other list items. And don’t worry, there’s way more to this trip, but that’ll be explained in upcoming posts.
Honestly, the most thrilling part was driving. I watched the car lights and the building lights and the bridge lights and the waters and the highways. I had not a care in the world so I took it all in as much as I could. I wish there were a way to be the driver but also see everything around you.
For some reason my GPS took a different route home, which elated me because that meant I could see even more.
On the way home I, again, drove as I wanted and listened to what I wanted and weaved through traffic the way I love to do, and when I got home I crawled into bed with my husband and dog and drifted off into a blissful sleep.
Companions: Music, Homeless Dog & Her Person
Tolls: Courtesy of Dad
Goal Total: $50
3rd Goal Accomplished
List Item #63: Travel Alone
Bucket List Total: $124